Surprisingly (to me) it is the only one I have bought which H.I. actually says she likes - it must be the swirly stem. It does indeed seem to date from around the early 18th century, according to all the little details that can only be seen when handling it, but like I say, I am no expert and my books don't seem to show another example of it's kind. My feeling is that it is 'continental' (possibly Dutch) but nobody that I know is qualified to give me an authoritative opinion. I wonder why?
Could it be that my fascination for early base-metal candlesticks is a symptom of some rare mental disorder that I have hinted at in previous posts? Judging from the mental state of all the professional glass collectors that I know, this could well be the case, but at least they have each other for like-minded company. Even they think I am fucking mad.
I went into the Melksham shop of an elderly antique dealer the other day, and although he only knows me as someone who is on the look-out for glass, I think he must be psychic. He had just laid out a collection of 18th century metal candlesticks, and was commenting to his elderly secretary that 'they must have seen some things in their time', etc. Either that or God is having a bit of a laugh during a bored moment.
This old boy has spent about 40 years acquiring a vast amount of assorted antiques which he stores in a virtual warehouse in the back of his shop, and the shop itself is tucked away from the main street and very difficult to find. Apparently, he paid top-dollar for all of his stock, so consequently he still has most of it left. He must be sitting on millions of pounds worth of it, and most of it is large furniture - very difficult to sell at a profit, because 18th century furniture can be bought dirt cheap at auction. When he does actually sell something, it is for about a third of the price written on the ticket.
I ran my eyes over the brass-work and noticed that it was almost all bog-standard, mid-eighteenth century candlesticks which hold no particular interest for me, then I spotted an unmistakable, English candlestick dating from around 1650, nestling amongst the others on a shelf at the back of his office.
I sidled over to it, trying not to look too interested, picked it up and peeped at the price-tag which was tied to the stem. It said, '£375'. Oh well, I suppose he has been in the business for about 20 years longer than most of them.
It reminded me of a short story (I forget by whom) of a wealthy dealer who - walking down the street one day - spots an old tramp playing the violin for small change. He walks up to the tramp and notices, with beating heart, that the violin seems of exceptionally good quality for a street-player's, so asks to have a look at it.
Whilst looking at the instrument, his heart almost stops when he sees the unmistakable label of 'Stradivarius' stuck to the inside, and the whole thing is in excellent condition. He starts to make plans, and decides to offer the tramp money to buy his instrument. He is sure that the tramp will sell, because he is dressed in rags, and estimates the violin's true value at about 3 million pounds.
The tramp responds by saying that he might consider selling it, but it would have to be a good price because he would need to buy another to play in the street, given that this was the way he made his hand to mouth living. Also, the tramp said, this violin was of good quality, so the price would have to reflect that.
The dealer offered him £500 and the tramp politely refused, saying that he believed the worth of the instrument was somewhat higher than that, so the dealer asked him what he would be prepared to accept for it.
The tramp replied: "3 million pounds".